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Microsoft cites Amazon Appstore in Apple trademark spat

updated 06:40 pm EDT, Tue March 29, 2011

Microsoft wields Amazon store vs Apple trademark

Microsoft in a response to the USPTO (below) on Tuesday cited the just launched Amazon Appstore as evidence that Apple couldn't maintain "app store" as a trademark. It used the launch last Tuesday as evidence that there was a "competitive need" from companies to use the concept of an app store generically. About 17 stores were already using it where Apple had claimed that use beyond its own shop was virtually non-existent, Microsoft said, and those that hadn't had primarily been intimidated into avoiding the name.

"Apple's enforcement testimony misses the point," Microsoft went on. "Even if some third parties have stopped using 'app store' to avoid being sued by Apple, the fact that they were using the term in the first place shows that 'app store' is a common name for online stores offering apps and that allowing Apple to appropriate this name for its exclusive use will prejudice competitors."

It also noted that 11 of 13 stores previously spotted were still using the generic wording. Using another name didn't automatically mean "app store" was specific to Apple any more than Payless Shoe Source was a sign "shoe store" belonged to someone else, according to Microsoft. The absence of a dictionary entry was also pointless as two-word items never find their ways into dictionaries and the dictionaries themselves were never a complete, fully updated reflection of language.

The response further reiterated what Microsoft saw as Apple's self-contradiction. Not only did its own expert find generic uses of the word "app store," but Apple's own executives, including CEO Steve Jobs, have referred to competitors as having "app stores" in the generic sense. Citing its own evidence, it pointed to Greenliant Systems losing control of "nandrive" after it was proven people were regularly using the word generically to small flash drives.

Apple had tried to refer to examples of stores that had filed for trademarks on normally generic names, such as The Computer Store and The Money Store. Microsoft rejected both examples; Apple falsely claimed that The Computer Store had been granted its trademark, and The Money Store's trademark had been applied explicitly to financial help and not the retail store subject at the heart of the trademark fight.

The use of Amazon, as well as other stores such as the DirecTV App Store, could be significant blows to Apple's case for defending its trademark. Earlier arguments had been based more on semantics. Microsoft's new complaint, however, centers more on direct evidence and on refuting Apple's. Apple was one of the first to formally use the term to refer to an app store in mid-2008 but wasn't the first to have such a shop, nor did it get the trademark until well after the concept had entered the popular language through the iPhone's success. [via GeekWire]

by MacNN Staff



  1. 64stang06

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Ok, then I want the ability use the word "windows" when describing an app I plan to write.

  1. TomMcIn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    If you cannot innovate


    MS has been doing this for decades. Why stop now?

  1. iphonerulez

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Amazon smeared Apple's face with dung...

    by willfully using the term Appstore despite Apple's protests. Amazon is just getting bolder and bolder as it steps beyond being just an online retailer. Apple needs to give Amazon some healthy payback with some sort of color Kindle killer.

  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Just because a company knowingly infringes on someone elses trademark does not make it a crediable argument.

    It doesn't mean anything even if a thousand companies use the trademark if they only started using it AFTER Apple invented it and trademarked it.

    Otherwise if enough companies use Windows then they would lose their trademark or if enough companies use "One-Click" then Amazon would lose theirs.

  1. Cronocide

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Just Steal It

    Like you have been doing for the past 30 years. No one will think less of you. We can't.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. Jonathan-Tanya

    Joined: Dec 1969


    App Store = generic

    twist and turn, and hem and haw all you want, the reality is, its obvious on its face that the term app store is generic.

  1. sailin74

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I guess application store, or software store are too complex.

    App Store is not more generic than "Windows" or "Office." I guess creativity is beyond both MSFT and AMZN. Oh, we'll call it the recycle bin, instead of trash. Oh, you have widgets, we'll make gadgets. seriously?

  1. nat

    Joined: Dec 1969



    if it were generic it would be because of, uh, apple's app store. which is trademarked. which means it's not generic.

    now, twist and turn and hem and haw all you want, but that is reality.

  1. freddymac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Is it time to start the

    death countdown for M$? Maybe they should just shut down and give the money back to the share holders. (sarcasm)

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